Limerick man caught with drugs worth €100k on kitchen table while 'on the run'

David Hurley

Reporter:

David Hurley

Keith McKenna, aged 46, who has an address at Springfield, Dooradoyle  pleaded guilty to possession

Keith McKenna, aged 46, who has an address at Springfield, Dooradoyle pleaded guilty to possession

A LIMERICK man who was caught with cannabis resin worth more than €100,000 while he was on the run from authorities in the UK has been sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.

Keith McKenna, aged 46, who has an address at Springfield, Dooradoyle  pleaded guilty to possession of more than 13kgs of the drugs for the purpose of sale or supply on March 4, 2009.

Detective Garda Damien Kennedy said when he and a colleague arrived at the defendant's home to execute a European Arrest Warrant he observed a quantity of drugs “in plain sight” in a large holdall on the kitchen table.

“It was clear there was illegal drugs there at the time,” he said adding the drugs were divided into 56 bars which were wrapped in plastic.

Gloves, a fake ID, two mobile phones and €6,650 in cash were also found along with a list of names and amounts of money.

During interview, McKenna, who works as a long-distance haulier,  admitted the drugs were his. He said he had travelled to a location in Tipperary the previous day to collect the drugs which had been buried in the ground for some time.

Judge Tom O’Donnell was told after the defendant was “released on licence” in the UK, gardai applied for a European Arrest Warrant which was executed last year.

“He was brought back here and he pleaded guilty,” said John O’Sullivan BL, prosecuting,

McKenna, the court heard,  admitted that he first got involved in transporting and selling drugs to help a close  acquaintance who was in financial difficulties.

Anthony Sammon SC said his client had made a “very foolish decision” when he was “much younger” and that the decision had messed up his life.

Imposing sentence, Judge Tom O’Donnell commented the defendant was a “willing and active” participant in the drugs trade “for the purpose of financial gain”.

He said his previous conviction and the value of the drugs seized were aggravating factors which he had to consider.

The judge noted McKenna’s admissions, his guilty plea and his expressions of remorse.

He said a probation report prepared for the court was “incisive and informative” and that he was also considering the content of the testimonials where were submitted on his behalf.

He imposed a five-year prison sentence, suspending the final two and-a-half years.

He granted an application for a stay and ordered that McKenna present himself at Limerick Prison by midday on January 2, next.

The drugs are to be destroyed and the cash seized forfeited to the State.